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The Conscience of Thoroughbred Racing


HALLANDALE BEACH, FL, January 29-2023 – Horseplayers might have gotten a clue about who might win the featured event right from jump when a Bill Mott-trained turf runner escaped from the also-eligibles and drew into the Pegasus Day lid-lifter and promptly got the money. Could he possibly book-end the card?

Once again at a mega-racing event, Mott, the second youngest horseman to have his name inscribed on a plaque inside the National Racing Museum and Hall of Fame in Saratoga Springs, made his presence known…and often does so when it’s least expected. This happens too often to be coincidental.

The last big event day held in America was on the first weekend in November at Keeneland Race Course. Mott was there, and so were his charges at the winning post.

Mott’s horsemanship was responsible for making a storybook-ending come true, one that was celebrated as NTRA’s Moment of the Year 2022. It wasn’t Flightline who did that; it was Cody’s Wish, a lunch-pail of an equine athlete who, without much sizzle, always brought his game.

Cody’s Wish, conditioned by Mott with a big assist from young Cody Dorman, showed the courage of his namesake by winning a head-to-fetlock battle with three-time Grade 1 winner Cyberknife and taking the Breeders’ Cup Dirt Mile in dramatic fashion.

For an encore, Mott took a horse lacking in star power, but used Elite Power’s late stretch kick to power past rivals in the shadow of the wire, sealing a victory that yielded an Eclipse Sprint championship.

As above, Mott’s day started with Wonka having the good fortune to draw into the opener and pull away in deep stretch for the victory beneath Junior Alvarado.

Mott and Alvarado were off on the good foot.

Mott’s second winner required no luck, only a small piece of training genius. Until November 20, Mozay had never won a race but left Aqueduct a winner that day. She ended her season on New Year’s Eve, finishing second in a preliminary allowances at Gulfstream.

Mott weighed his options with the newly turned five-year-old and off an allowance placing entered her in the South Beach, an overnight handicap in which she carried low weight of 117 pounds and Jose Ortiz. She made the last run a successful one. Mott assessed the competition perfectly.

Now it was time for 13th race finale, the $3-million Pegasus World Cup Invitational, and everybody knew what he had, Grade 1 winner Art Collector who had won half of his 20 lifetime starts, but who developed a foot abscess after the Lukas Classic which kept him out of the Cigar Mile.

“We had to scrap all our plans,” Mott explained, “so I told Bruce [owner Bruce Lunsford] we’re going to miss [the Cigar]. Let’s go to Florida.”

Prior to the Pegasus, Luis Saez was Art Collector’s partner. Saez won multiple stakes on him, including the Grade 1 Woodward and back-to-back Charles Town Classics. But Junior Alvarado got the call yesterday. The plan, and its execution, was seamless.

”We talked it over,” an excited Lunsford added, “I give Bill credit for this, he said we’re going to try something different.”

Alvarado won four stakes on Olympiad and was second to Flightline in the BC Classic and did so with tactical, first-flight stalking tactics. Mott played to Alvarado’s strengths and the presumed race dynamics.

His instructions: “Ride him just like you ride Olympiad.”

Which is exactly what Alvarado did, stalking the two California speed burners into the first turn following a clean, sharp jump from the stalls, and continued to tail the leaders through the backstretch run. Meanwhile, the balance of the race was shaping up with, frankly, many disappointments.

We had the sense that favored Cyberknife was in trouble when Florent Geroux appeared to give up his cover early on the backside to get out of the kickback. The Brad Cox charge began climbing a bit and never appeared to level off after that.

The going, and the competition, was a little too slick for Proxy who appeared on the scene far too late. Finally, after settling into best stride, he finished up very strongly and is highly likely to move forward next time.

And it was a disappointing Pegasus for Saffie Joseph Jr., too. White Abarrio is simply not fast enough to keep pace with faster, high-class types no matter how well he trains. Skippylongstocking was a commendable seventh, as not many Gulfstream races are won racing five deep throughout.

Art Collector’s biggest career victory came over a surface on which he had no experience. He relished it, obviously. And know that yesterday’s pilot has had quite the meet, with milestone career victory number 2,000 and a slice of the $1,680,000 that goes to the winning Pegasus connections.

As for Mott, he carries his racetrack with him wherever he goes; deja vu all over again.

On the Line will have more on the undercard races later this week

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13 Responses

  1. Art Collector’s odds were 19/1 a minute before post time.During the race he was 15/1.Still, an interesting,encouraging angle when betting double-digit horses.

  2. Winner Kosay went from 5-1 to 5-2. Winner Personal Best went from 5-2 to 6-5. Winner Atone went from 5-1 to 7-2. Winner Wolfie’s Dynaghost went from 7-1 to 5-1. And of course, 19-1 to 15-1 on the Pegasus winner.

    It’s damn disgusting is what it is!

    HISA, how about some love for the customer, the fan, the horseplayer? Tell the tracks to make the batch boys get their bets in before the two minute mark so that the rank and file can adjust and have a better idea of what the prices are. Fixed-odds betting now!

  3. Back to The Cat and Mouse in Partnership John. When money is involved it will never be about the interest of the rank and file being served first. Two minutes to Post. Why the announcement at all? If more time is needed, the post will somehow just be extended.

    1. I hear you McD but that just plays havoc with other tracks in simulcast-world. The rank and file would not like that either but at least it shouldn’t cost them money.

  4. Can’t force anybody When to make the bet.From casinos to stock market boards to horse racing,it is part of the deal,transaction. Following,tabbing races,I think that it is less successful with cheaper claiming horses .It has to be more successful with ‘ Blue Chips’ ,the serious money. Hey,many believe in early money betting,right after the odds open up,like in the Super Bowl.I’ d bet Eagles minus 6.How is the New Jersey method doing with flat racing ??

    1. Just found out that the Super Bowl odds changed 3 points right after they opened,from Eagles plus 1 to Minus 2.5.It took lots of $$ to move those odds and may still go in that direction..Well,at least my money will..

      1. Makes sense when you consider that Cincinnati had several chances to win that game while the Eagles were dominant.

        You think racing officials are bad? How about the foul calls in KC? Gets so I don’t know what the rules are anymore…

  5. It also happen in a less significant NBA game, with a few seconds to go, a No Call while, of all Stars, Lebron James got hit on the wrist while going to the basket. Later on the ‘ crew chief’ Apologized but the Lakers lost the close game. In the Cincinnati-Kansas City game, it also cost a playoff loss, a chance to go to the Super Bowl and million$ of bets changing, both from bettors and betting joints, from small time ‘ hood runners to big time casinos all over the World. There should be some punishment when the errors are so evident … and the coaching staff Not asking for time out and a review bothers me more even if I did not bet the event. Did a team Win or the other team Lose? To my logic, Cincinnati gave it away. Home cooking?

  6. JG, I won’t speculate on “what might have been” but will say that in both games, a preponderance of penalties landed in favor of the home team, and there were some curious coaching decisions possibly affecting the outcome as well.

    That’s why they call it gambling…

    1. Yes,but refs should not dictate the outcome of an event. We remember how many times judges decisions,esp. in boxing,when we used to follow that sport in the middle and heavy weights categories left us incredulous.Sometimes their ineptitude,discrimination,favoritism has been shown to be more obvious than in most court houses where juries try to be even handed,without any hints of corruption.. ( 12 Angry Men movie comes to mind). Stewards can still make questionable calls.” Whose money is it,Anyway” !Judges,umpires,refs should Not be an added obstacle to obtain an honest win .

      1. Ps: Almost forgot to mention since we ‘ re both former LI residents that the Nevada Sands outfit is one of the main casino connections bidding for the ” old Nassau Coliseum”,right in the middle of every accessible highway,former home of the glorious Islanders hockey dynasty,near the former Roosevelt racetrack,etc,which means that the NY- LI area will have more casinos,racinos than most degerate gamblers ever dreamt about.Another nail into the MGM Yonkers $ 800 mil$ lemon coffin.Location,location..

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